Saturday, July 27, 2002

Family killings shake Fort Bragg

Counseling programs to be examined

By The Associated Press

        Two Ohio natives seeking to divorce their soldier husbands were among four military wives killed in the last six weeks in Fort Bragg, N.C.

        The husbands are suspected in all four cases, which include two murder-suicides, investigators said. Three of the men were special operations soldiers who had been deployed to Afghanistan.

        Fort Bragg officials said the killings surprised them, because the military offers extensive family counseling programs. The base will re-examine those programs because of the slayings, officials said Friday.

        “We're going to evaluate everything we do,” said Col. Jerome Haberek, chaplain for the U.S. Army Special Operations units at Fort Bragg.

        Both Ohio victims were separating from their husbands. North Carolina law requires a one-year separation before a divorce.

        Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Floyd shot his wife, Andrea Zeigler Floyd, then killed himself in their home near Fort Bragg on July 19, authorities said. She was a native of northeast Alliance, Ohio.

        Master Sgt. William Wright is charged with murder in the strangulation of his wife, Jennifer. They were high school sweethearts in Mason, Ohio, about 30 miles north of Cincinnati.

        “He was like my own child,” Jennifer Wright's mother, Wilma Watson, said Friday.

        “Until he came back from Afghanistan, I didn't worry about violence,” she said. “He was getting these attacks of rage. She was afraid of him. I begged her to come home. She still loved him.”

        Sheriff's investigators said Sgt. Wright, with the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, reported his wife missing two days after she was strangled June 29. On July 19, he led investigators to her body.

        Sgt. Wright, back from Afghanistan about a month, had moved out of their house and lived in the barracks. The couple was working on a plan to raise their three children after the divorce, Ms. Watson said.

        The children, ages 13, 9 and 6, are staying with Jennifer Wright's sister in Franklin, Ohio, Ms. Watson said. Funeral arrangements are pending.

        The Fayetteville Observer reported Sgt. Floyd was a member of Delta Force, the secretive anti-terrorism unit based at Fort Bragg. He returned from Afghanistan in January, officials said.

        “I truly in my heart believe that his training was such that if you can't control it, you kill it,” Penny Flitcraft, Andrea Floyd's mother, told The (Alliance) Review.

        The couple's three children, ages 4, 5 and 8, were staying with Ms. Flitcraft and her husband, Mark, at the time of the deaths.

        Andrea Floyd, 29, was scheduled to be inducted this fall into the hall of fame at Marlington High School southwest of Youngstown. Ms. Floyd, a 1990 graduate, ran track there.

        The slayings started June 11 when Sgt. 1st Class Rigoberto Nieves - a soldier in the 3rd Special Forces Group back from Afghanistan just two days - allegedly shot his wife, Teresa, and himself in their bedroom.

        Officials say he had requested leave to resolve personal problems.

        Sgt. Cedric Ramon Griffin, 28, was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree arson in the July 9 death of his wife. He was from the 18th Airborne Corps and was not deployed.


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